Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jessie Knadler's "Rurally Screwed"

Jessie Knadler is a writer whose articles and stories have appeared in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Glamour. She is the coauthor of the preserving cookbook Tart and Sweet.

Her blog has been featured in Newsweek and French Elle and on She lives with her husband, her daughter, and a bunch of chickens in Lexington, Virginia.

Here Knadler dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love:
My top pick to play the role of Jessie (that would be me) would be Kate Winslet, the pitch perfect blend of kookiness, warmth and intensity. Since there’s not a chance in hell this will ever happen (she’s only one of the best actresses on the planet and to my knowledge, doesn’t do romantic comedies), Emily Blunt, Drew Barrymore, Emma Stone and Charlize Theron could all do an equally bang up job. For the role of Jake, I can’t really think of an actor who could convincingly play him since so few seem capable of shedding their inherent glossy Hollywood patina, but I’ll go with Ryan Gosling since he played a believable soldier-slash-working man in The Notebook.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessie Knadler's website.

Writers Read: Jessie Knadler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi's "The Sugar Girls"

Duncan Barrett studied English at Cambridge and now works as writer and editor, specializing in biography and memoir. He most recently edited The Reluctant Tommy (Macmillan, 2010) a First World War memoir. Nuala Calvi also studied English and has been a journalist for eight years with a strong interest in community history pieces. She took part in the Streatham Stories project to document the lives and memories of people in South London. They live in South London.

Here Barrett shares some ideas for director and part of the cast if their new book, The Sugar Girls: Tales of Hardship, Love and Happiness in Tate & Lyle's East End Factories, is adapted for the big screen:
The Sugar Girls is based on interviews with women who worked at Tate & Lyle’s East End factories in the 1940s and 1950s. One of our core interviewees, Gladys Taylor, wasted no time in announcing her desire to be a character in a feature film. We had just arrived at her house for our first interview, and hadn’t even had a chance to sit down, when she demanded, ‘Is this going to be a film then, like Made in Dagenham?’ before pondering who might play her part.

Certainly, if The Sugar Girls were to make it to the big screen, Made in Dagenham would be the obvious reference point – and Nigel Cole, who directed both that film and Calendar Girls, would be an obvious first choice for director. Like both those films, our book focuses on the friendship and camaraderie of ordinary women – and our sugar girls were as tough and strong-willed as their sisters at the Ford motor plant, calling unofficial strikes at work when they felt they weren’t being treated fairly.

It’s actually rather hard to imagine who would play Gladys and the other sugar girls. In the 1940s, girls started work at 14, so it seems likely that young unknown actors would take the main roles. However, there are some wonderful supporting parts among the factory management. The one character who was mentioned in pretty much every interview was Miss Smith, the formidable labour manageress who hired and fired the girls, and who was known around the factory as ‘The Dragon’ for her strict sense of discipline. At her most no-nonsense and intimidating, I can imagine Imelda Staunton in the role.

The other great part for a character actor is Oliver Lyle, the eccentric fellow who used to run the factory, and whose grandfather, Abram Lyle, had built it over 60 years previously. ‘Old Ollie’, as he was known around the factory, was so obsessive about the production process that he once fell into a vat of sugar juice he had been studying particularly intensely – and when he was pulled out, his suit had hardened into armour. He was a warm, enthusiastic man and would be a gift of a part for a larger-than-life performer: perhaps Simon Callow, or maybe even Kenneth Branagh, who bears something of a resemblance to Mr Lyle.
Visit the official blog of The Sugar Girls for pictures, excerpts, reviews and more.

The Page 99 Test: The Sugar Girls.

Writers Read: Duncan Barrett.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Erika Marks's "Little Gale Gumbo"

Erika Marks is a native New Englander who was raised in Maine and has worked as an illustrator, cake decorator, and carpenter. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their two daughters.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her novel, Little Gale Gumbo:
I have to believe there isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t cast her or his novel at some point along the way—whether in the earliest draft or in the final product. Although my story takes place over 30-plus years, I’ve only cast the adult roles (but would love to hear if anyone has any suggestions for the younger versions of the characters.)

For the role of Camille, the Creole woman who leaves New Orleans with her teenage daughters and opens a café in coastal Maine, I would cast Thandie Newton. Not only is she a beauty, but I imagine her conveying Camille’s warmth and calm, her passion and sensuality, as well as her determination to do what she needs to do to care for her daughters and make their new life on the island.

Camille’s daughters are complete opposites in every way, but are absolutely devoted to one another. Older sister Dahlia, who is fiercely independent and outspoken but also comfortable with her sexuality, strongly resembles her mother, Camille; I think either Paula Patton or Halle Berry would be wonderful. For emotionally-fragile younger sister Josie, who looks like her father Charles, I think Amy Adams would be great in the role.

In terms of the male characters: for the role of single-father Ben, I see Matt Damon embodying that quiet confidence, that lack of ego, as well as that clear sense of being a protector. I think Aaron Eckhart would be a good choice for his son Matthew—sensitive and easy-going but moody enough to adequately express his conflicted feelings for the two sisters.

Jack, Dahlia’s long-time love, is a warm, stand-up guy but also sexy; Eric Bana or Josh Brolin come immediately to mind. Josie’s husband Wayne is very much the boy-next-door, someone like Jason Segel.

For Charles, there’s no question I think Michael Fassbender would nail it. He’s handsome and charming, but able to turn that charm on a dime into something much more dangerous.
Learn more about the book and author at Erika Marks's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 25, 2012

Jennifer duBois's "A Partial History of Lost Causes"

Jennifer duBois was born in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1983. She earned a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Tufts University and an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She recently completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, where she is currently the Nancy Packer Lecturer in Continuing Studies. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Playboy, The Missouri Review, The Kenyon Review, The Florida Review, The Northwest Review, Narrative, ZYZZYVA, FiveChapters and elsewhere.

Here she shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of her new novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes:
A Partial History of Lost Causes follows the stories of two very different characters facing fundamentally similar challenges. Aleksandr Bezetov is a Russian chess champion turned political dissident launching a quixotic political campaign against Vladimir Putin. Irina Ellison is a young American academic who is positive for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative neurological disease that killed her father. In the year before she knows she’s likely to become symptomatic, Irina travels to Russia to get an answer to the question her chess-obsessed father had once posed in an unanswered letter to Bezetov: how do you proceed when you’re confronting a lost cause?

Part of the fun of fantasy-casting A Partial History of Lost Causes is that the book spans thirty years, so almost every actor would need to look many decades older or younger than he or she actually is at some point in the movie. But in my imaginary film, the make-up/prosthetic budget is limitless. (The same is true of my imaginary nation-state.) Also, in my imaginary film, hugely famous actors are lining up for bit parts. You’re welcome, Bill Murray!

Aleksandr: Robert Downey Jr., because he can do anything.

Irina: There’s no obvious choice for her, since she’s ornery and cerebral and over 30, but I suppose movie-Irina would have to be a bit sweeter and prettier than book-Irina. I love Emma Stone—her comic timing is phenomenal—and we know from her fine work in The House Bunny that she can play a reasonably plausible nerd. So if she ever wanted to begin a dramatic career, I think my imaginary movie, with its limitless prosthesis budget, would be an excellent place for her to start.

Elizabeta: Frances McDormand would be an amazing older-Elizabeta. Frances McDormand radiates this profound unwillingness to deal with nonsense, which I really like and hope to achieve in my later years.

Nikolai: Kevin Spacey. There is no one more satisfyingly villainous.

Misha: Steve Buscemi. I only just realized that he probably subconsciously inspired every physical description of this character as I was writing.

Lars: Bill Murray. We’ve seen him eccentric and world-weary, but have we seen him eccentric and world-weary and Swedish?

Petr Pavlovich: Paul Giamatti. His sniffling alone would steal the movie/win an Academy Award.

Finally, a cameo by Vladimir Putin as himself. He’s already harpooned a whale, achieved a black belt in Judo, and reportedly saved an entire TV crew from a tiger attack—starring in a movie is the natural next step for his career. Also, he could probably use the good press.
Learn more about the book and author at the official Jennifer DuBois website.

The Page 69 Test: A Partial History of Lost Causes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

S.G. Browne's "Lucky Bastard"

S.G. Browne worked in Hollywood for several years before moving to Santa Cruz to be a writer. He currently lives and writes in San Francisco. His novels include Breathers: A Zombie's Lament.

Here Browne dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Lucky Bastard:
While I see my books visually as I’m writing them and have been told that my short chapters and style of writing lends my novels to film adaptation, I didn’t have any actors or actresses in mind when I wrote Lucky Bastard.

Although I have a short list of actors I’ve come up with for the characters in my first two novels (Breathers and Fated), I didn’t come up with the lists until after the books were written. Had I imagined certain actors playing those roles, I think it would have influenced or affected the development of the characters as I was creating them. Imbued them with a voice or a demeanor that was similar to previous roles I’d seen those actors play in other films. So I just allowed my characters to become who they were before casting anyone to play them in the film version.

In case you’re curious, the actors on my short list for Breathers are Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Jake Gyllenhaal (Andy), Scarlett Johansson / Anne Hathaway (Rita), Bruce Campbell (Andy’s dad), and Christopher Walken (Ray). The actors I imagine playing the characters in Fated include Ryan Reynolds (Fate), Rose McGowan (Destiny), Jonah Hill (Gluttony), Seth Rogan (Sloth), and Gary Oldman (Death).

As for Lucky Bastard, I could see Ryan Gosling as a possible Nick Monday. Although I’ve never seen him do straight comedy, I think he could pull off being an amusing, sarcastic, smart-ass detective. Though if I could create a gap in the space-time continuum and grab an actor from another era, Val Kilmer in his late 20s would have been perfect for the role. A young Robert Downey Jr. would have been perfect, too.

Other roles could go to Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad (Bow Wow), Ken Watanabe (Tommy Wong), William Fichtner (Barry Manilow), John Malkovich (The Albino), and Scarlett Johansson or Rose McGowan as Tuesday Knight.

Apparently, I have a thing for Scarlett Johansson and Rose McGowan.
Learn more about Lucky Bastard and the author at S.G. Browne's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Breathers: A Zombie's Lament.

The Page 69 Test: Lucky Bastard.

Writers Read: S.G. Browne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ann Pearlman's "A Gift for My Sister"

Ann Pearlman is a writer of both fiction, and non-fiction books and has been passionate about writing since eighth grade. Getting Free: Women and Psychotherapy was written with two colleagues and used as both a consciousness-raising book in the woman’s movement as well as college textbook.  Keep the Home Fires Burning: How to Have an Affair With Your Spouse, garnered the attention of the Oprah Winfrey Show and many other TV talk shows. Her memoir, Infidelity, was nominated for National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, and made into a Lifetime movie by Lionsgate. Inside the Crips, with a foreword by Ice T, took readers into the life of a Crip gang member and the California Prison system. The Christmas Cookie Club became an international bestseller, spawning cookie exchanges and donations to charity.

Here Pearlman shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of her new novel, A Gift for My Sister:
I don’t think of movie stars when I envision my characters. My characters exist so fully in my mind no real person could match my imagination. Yet, Lionsgate turned one of my books, Infidelity, into a Lifetime movie and the people they chose fit the movie they created. I had not imagined that Kim Delaney who I loved on NYPD Blue would play the lead and that Kyle Secor, who became the President’s husband on Commander and Chief, would be her husband. Cristian de La Fuente was the ‘other man’. I loved being on the set and watching my book morph into a project that grew from the creativity and imaginations of cast and crew. When a book is made into a movie, it becomes the producer, director, and cast, and scriptwriter’s collaborative art project.

A Gift For My Sister would make a fabulous movie. There’s the psychological tension between the characters, with settings as rich as rap concerts, and an entire trip across America. Each actor will bring something new to the character that cannot match my image. Here are some ideas for the characters in A Gift for My Sister.

Michelle Williams for Sky because she reveals huge amounts of emotion in small gestures. She can portray a cautious, yet internally anxious and angry, character.

Katharine McPhee for Tara because she can sing, act, and has an edge. She can do impetuous, loving and self-sacrificing.

T.I. for Aaron/Special Intent because he looks and raps a bit as I imagine Aaron. And he has experience in front of a camera.

Kathy Bates for Allie, the friend who helps them on their journey across the country, because she can be wise, loving, yet tough, bridging those characteristics effortlessly.

Alfre Woodward for Sissy (Aaron’s mom) because of her welcoming warmth.

It’s exciting to see words I’ve written spoken by actors and I would love to be on the set when they do the rap concerts.
Learn more about the book and author at Ann Pearlman's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Gift for My Sister.

Writers Read: Ann Pearlman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jon Talton's "Powers of Arrest"

Jon Talton's novels include the thriller, Deadline Man, several David Mapstone mysteries, and The Pain Nurse, the first of The Cincinnati Casebooks series.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest Cincinnati Casebook, Powers of Arrest:
For Powers of Arrest, the most important character is Cincinnati. The film should be shot there, lovingly showing the place that Churchill called America’s most beautiful inland city. From the gritty architectural jewel box of Over-the-Rhine to the Ohio River sweeping past downtown to the hills and valleys of Cincinnati, it is a cinematic paradise.

As for major characters, I see Jodie Foster as Cheryl Beth Wilson, the nurse and nursing professor. Detective Will Borders would be well served by Vincent D’Onofrio, who can play the pain and depth of this character. As for his partner, Detective Dodds, Terrence Howard.
Learn more about the book and author at Jon Talton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Powers of Arrest.

Writers Read: Jon Talton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2012

Terra Elan McVoy's "Being Friends with Boys"

Terra Elan McVoy has held a variety of jobs centered around reading and writing, from managing an independent children’s bookstore, to teaching writing classes, and even answering fan mail for Captain Underpants. McVoy lives and works in the same Atlanta neighborhood where her novels After the Kiss, Being Friends with Boys, and Pure are set. She is also the author of The Summer of Firsts and Lasts.

Here the author shares some ideas for director and cast of an adaptation of Being Friends with Boys:
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of my favorite John Hughes films (Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles, specifically) when I wrote Being Friends with Boys. While there isn’t exactly a connect-the-dot between any of the book or movie characters, I hope that the same the mood those films evoke is still there. Were he alive today, it would be awesome to have John Hughes direct the movie version of this book. I also loved (500) Days of Summer and since there’s a heavy music element to this book, Marc Webb might be another interesting directorial choice.

Since all the actors I loved in John Hughes’ films are now almost be too old to play the parents (though gosh—Molly Ringwald as Charlotte’s stepmom, Hannah, would be fantastic), I’ve got try to use my imagination a little more to cast these characters.

For the role of Charlotte, the main character, I’d choose Kat Dennings in her Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist mode, hands down. She might have to work to un-glamourize herself just a little at the beginning of the Being Friends with Boys film, but her tough, edgy, funny vibe would be really perfect for Charlotte, especially once Charlotte learns a thing or two about sticking up for herself. (As she does later in the book.)

Oliver, Charlotte’s best friend since 5th grade, is a bit of a broody looker, and so it’d be interesting to see Daniel Radcliffe (at about HP #5 age) play him. Trip, her other best friend, is bouncier and goofier, so maybe Hunter Parrish (slightly younger than he is now) would be a good fit. The bad-boy of the book, Benji, I can’t imagine being played by anyone else but Macaulay Culkin (much younger and healthier than he is now, of course—maybe around when he was 19). I loved him so much in Saved!, and that’s the energy that would be perfect for Benji. Of course, I’m also a huge Robert Downey Jr., fan, so if we wanted to cast Benji as someone more darkly complected, that might work too (so long as RDJ was, you know, 18). Charlotte’s love interest, Fabian, needs to be someone approachable, but creative and sexy at the same time. Maybe Tye Sheridan; he played a smallish role in The Tree of Life, but I think he’d be ready for a bigger role now!

Of course, the reader’s imagination is always the best casting director ever, so mostly I defer to readers of Being Friends with Boys regarding who should play whom. Even if that means the result is a bunch of yet-undiscovered unknowns!
Visit Terra Elan McVoy's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Summer of Firsts and Lasts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kate Klise's "In the Bag"

As a correspondent for People magazine, Kate Klise covered everything from celebrity scandals to serial killers. After writing several bestselling children's books, Kate decided to write In the Bag, her first novel for adults, when she found a note from a fellow passenger in her carry-on bag.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of In the Bag:
I wrote In the Bag after watching The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black) and remembering how fun a trading-places story can be.

In my book, the characters don’t trade houses. They swap suitcases—by accident. These are the two teenage characters who then begin flirting online while purportedly trying to track down their missing luggage in Paris (the 18-year-old girl) and Madrid (the 17-year-old boy).

The teenagers’ parents—both single—are clueless about their kids’ budding e-romance. Why? Because they’re too preoccupied with work. The mother (I can picture Sandra Bullock, Kate Winslet or Diane Keaton in this role) recently quit her job as chef at a fancy restaurant in Chicago. The father (I’d love to see Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Steve Martin, or Alec Baldwin here) is a museum exhibit designer with a big show coming up titled "Love in the Post-Digital Age." He has no time to slip an admiring note in the bag of a woman (our Sandra-Kate-Diane character) he sees on an international flight. But that’s exactly what he does.

These characters will meet each other, lose each other, find each other again (in Barcelona), tick each other off (romantic partners and parents/children alike) before they realize adore each other to pieces.

But now do you see why I need either Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail) or Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated) to direct the movie version of this book? In the Bag is a romantic comedy about two generations, three international cities, and four major characters—all trying to find love in this post-digital world.

And it is complicated.

But not really.

It’s a feel-good story about taking chances on new relationships, even though we all know by now that falling in love can be as risky as checking a bag on a long flight—or thinking about the movie adaptation of a book a week before the pub date.

And I know exactly who I’d love to write the soundtrack: Jimmy “Wichita Lineman” Webb.
Learn more about the book and author at Kate Klise's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Alex Adams's "White Horse"

Alex Adams was born in New Zealand, raised in Greece and Australia, and currently lives in Oregon–which is a whole lot like New Zealand, minus those freaky-looking wetas.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of her new novel White Horse, the first volume in a debut trilogy:
I don't populate my stories with famous faces. Sometimes my characters don't wear faces at all. They remain hazy, with features that stand out only when they need to.

But lately people have been asking questions about who I'd cast in the various roles, should a production company snap up White Horse's film rights. So I've been sifting through faces.

Kate Winslet would really work for Zoe. As my protagonist, the whole story is filtered through her point of view, so the role needs an actor strong enough to carry every scene. Is there anything Kate can't do? I don't think so.

There's no one I've ever seen as Nick Rose. None of the current crop of Hollywood stars would work for me, so he'd have to be a complete unknown.

I'm not all that familiar with the UK's young stars, so for Lisa, the young blind woman Zoe saves, I'd have to go with Ahna O'Reilly—but with an English accent.

Morris I see as Jada Pinkett Smith. She's got the look and the right blend of toughness and vulnerability. Morris has lost everyone, yet she's able to push that aside, lead people, do tough things that need to be done. And somehow, she manages to maintain her sense of humor. I think Jada would totally kill in that role.

White Horse's villain, the Swiss, is probably the trickiest to cast. I have someone in mind, but there's a huge plot-gaping reason why it wouldn't work (and no, I'll never say who unless you've read the book). A fellow writer suggested Giovanni Ribisi, and so far I can't think of anyone better.
Learn more about the book and author at Alex Adams's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 14, 2012

Anne Berry's "The Water Children"

Anne Berry was born in London and moved to Hong Kong at the age of six, where she was educated. She founded a small drama school, writing and directing more than thirty plays in ten years, and now lives in Surrey with her husband and four children. Her first novel, The Hungry Ghosts, was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Water Children:
More than any of my novels as I was writing The Water Children I could see it unrolling cinematically. All the ingredients of an excellent film naturally came together, as well as the practical elements which would make filming possible. The plot, though it starts with tragedy rapidly changes gear and becomes a gripping, edge of the seat thriller where a baby’s life hangs in the balance. It has a cast of four main characters, Owen, Catherine, Naomi and Sean, each completely different and utterly unique. And there would be the bonus of two superb parts for women, in short supply these days. Then we have the contained locations, a basement market, a seedy flat in Covent Garden, a mysterious reservoir high in the Tuscan mountains where an entire village was drowned and may still be glimpsed in its depths. The tortured pasts of the children could be handled with flashback sequences.

Now to my actors. For Owen perhaps Ryan Gosling, or that outstanding British actor Edward Redmayne. He has both on stage and on screen an extraordinary heart breaking vulnerability that would make him perfect for Owen. Jeremy Renner is Sean, the wide boy, the Irish dreamer with a dangerous streak in his flawed nature. Catherine would be played beautifully by Bryce Dallas Howard or Jennifer Lawrence. A young Jenny Agutter would have epitomised her character. And finally my femme fatale, unpredictable and deadly, Natalie Portman or Megan Fox. The British actress I would like to see bringing Naomi alive is that tour de force, Eve Best. Just picturing it and imagining them acting and speaking the dialogue is a sheer joy!
Learn more about the book and author at Anne Berry's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Water Children.

Writers Read: Anne Berry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 12, 2012

William Dietrich’s "The Emerald Storm"

William (Bill) Dietrich's historical and action thrillers have been translated into 28 languages. Dietrich is also a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, nonfiction author, and college professor of environmental journalism. He has won the Washington Governor Writer's Award and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award.

His Ethan Gage Adventures feature an imperfect American adventurer who is not only a protege of the late Benjamin Franklin—but also a gambler, sharpshooter, treasure-hunter and romantic, who manages to get into plenty of trouble with women. Ethan's story entwines with Napoleon Bonaparte's, whom he first meets in Napoleon's Pyramids and is later allied to and odds with in The Rosetta Key and The Dakota Cipher. The newly released The Emerald Storm is the fourth novel in the series.

Here Dietrich shares some ideas for cast and director should the series be adapted for the cinema:
“When will it be a movie?” is one of the most frequent questions I get when speaking about my Ethan Gage adventure books, including the latest, The Emerald Storm.

“Who should play Ethan?” I reply.

The female vote has tended to favor Hugh Jackman, the handsome Aussie, who indeed could have fun with the role. Eric Bana and James Franco are also hunks fans have offered.

Fun is the operative word. I have a hero who is not just heroic but at times funny, confused, or failing. It takes an adept actor to pull off that kind of cheek. Robert Downey Jr. brings a modern smirk to Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, but I think he might be a little too commanding and contemporary as Ethan Gage.

Johnny Depp would be fascinating, as always, but is not quite robust enough. Alternately, I’d be curious to see if Jude Law could hold center stage in the role.

Harrison Ford, in his roles as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, captured the mix of pluck and vulnerability I imagine for Ethan. You need an actor who can be funny, and Clark Gable had the knack. David Niven would never physically make an Ethan Gage, but his mix of wit with derring-do again straddles the line between courage and comedy. Roger Moore is nothing like Ethan, but he brought archness to James Bond.

So it takes an action hero with range. Colin Farrell is an actor who has covered roles from Alexander the Great to the humor of In Bruges. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt always do interesting things. Lost’s Josh Holloway has that wisecracking stud quality.

The best choice, of course, might be a relative unknown, such as Sean Connery when he became James Bond.

Who do you suggest?

Astiza requires beauty married with intelligence, so the smoky intensity of a Catherine Zeta-Jones or Angelina Jolie. She needs to be a scene-stealer.

Napoleon should be Tom Cruise, who is an inch taller than the conqueror. While many picture the cartoon-plump Napoleon, looking constipated with his hand in his coat, the Napoleon of the Ethan Gage books rose as a slim rock star of magnetic energy, and Cruise has exactly that Napoleonic star power.

Paul Bettany, who has played Darwin, would make an interesting Robert Fulton. Could Depp pull off French voyageur Pierre Radisson? Alan Rickman as Talleyrand, perhaps. Don Cheadle as the imprisoned black revolutionary, Touissant L’Ouverture, and younger versions of Samuel L. Jackson as Dessalines and James Earl Jones as Jubal, in Emerald Storm.

The real difference would follow a director with the vision and skill to bend the actors to the roles. Any movie would be an historical epic, and the master at that is Ridley Scott. Peter Weir explored the era expertly in Master and Commander. Peter Jackson is perfect if we could get him out of Middle Earth, James Cameron if we could get him out of the water, and Steven Spielberg if we could just get him.

I’d love to see “based on the novel by” on the big screen, and the Battle of the Pyramids or the Haitian slave revolt are made for 3D, Imax, and CGI. But a series like Ethan also lends itself to HBO or Showtime.

So Hollywood, please call. Oh, and my cameo? Pretty much limited to an extra corpse, if you want a good movie.
Learn more about the book and author at William Dietrich's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Simon Lewis's "Border Run"

Simon Lewis studied Art at Goldmiths College in London, then worked as a travel writer in Asia. He researched the Rough Guides to China, Beijing, and Shanghai as well as writing for newspapers and magazines.

His first novel Go (1999), a travel thriller about backpackers, was written in a village in the Himalayas. His second novel, Bad Traffic (2008), is a crime thriller about people smugglers, featuring Chinese policeman Inspector Jian.

Here Lewis dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Border Run:
If Border Run was to be filmed, it would be a contained thriller - all the action takes place over a single day, in (pretty much) one location - the remote forest that lies on the border between Burma and China. As well as bringing to life some dramatic talky scenes, the actors would be required to do a lot of tricky physical work - jumping over waterfalls, fighting with knives, and hunting one another with homemade crossbows.

For my lead, naive young British backpacker Will, I would want Robert Sheehan. I was lucky enough to watch him play another part I wrote for him - that of a grieving pickpocket in the TV drama Dip - and I think he is a superb actor. He brings a mesmerising mix of angst and strength to the role. It helps that he's beautiful too, in a soulful way.

I think it is a challenging part: over the course of one day he has to turn from one of life's natural witnesses - rather self conscious, hiding behind his camera - into a ruthless hunter who must drop the trappings of civilisation and turn on his best friend, in order to do what he thinks is right.

For the second backpacker, Jake, I would cast Dominic Cooper - sportier and more extrovert, with more classical good looks. Something more of a jack- the-lad quality about him. Again, his role is a tough one: he has to be stripped of his conceited confidence and descend into paranoia and desperation.

The third character - the seedy middle aged smuggler who acts as their guide - is psychopathic, middle aged and American - so would have to be played by whoever the new Dennis Hopper is - perhaps Nicolas Cage. Certainly a character actor who can bring some intensity and danger to the part. As the guide, he runs rings around his young charges, being icy, manipulative and fast talking - and, ultimately, unhinged and pretty scary. For an actor, it's probably the best role; he gets a good death scene too...
Learn more about the book and author at Simon Lewis' website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Bad Traffic.

The Page 69 Test: Border Run.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Esther Friesner's "Spirit's Princess"

Nebula Award winner Esther Friesner is the author of more than 30 novels and over 150 short stories, including the story "Thunderbolt" in Random House's Young Warriors anthology, which lead to the creation of Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize. She is also the editor of seven popular anthologies. Her works have been published around the world. Educated at Vassar College and Yale University, where she taught for a number of years, Friesner is also a poet, a playwright, and once wrote an advice column, "Ask Auntie Esther."

Here she shares some thoughts about adapting her latest novel, Spirit's Princess, for the big screen:
I can't remember a time when I didn't love to play the game of "Hollywood has just signed on the dotted line and they actually care enough about the author's feelings to let me cast the movie!" The name of the game is rather a stretch, but so are the chances of Hollywood ever giving an author that much say. In spite of that, I continue to dreamcast.

Now I have the opportunity to do so publicly for my latest novel, Spirit's Princess, even if it's just on the "What if. . .?" level. You'd think I'd be overjoyed.

I'm not. I'm overwhelmed.

Much as I'd love to dreamcast Spirit's Princess, here's the problem: It's set in 3rd century Japan. The heroine, Himiko, grew up to be the shaman-queen who united her people's warring tribes, brought peace, and was recognized as a worthy ally by the emperor of China. She's strong but vulnerable, complex, admirable, spiritual, a fighter, a healer, and...Japanese.

As are the rest of the characters in the book, might I add.

I cannot see casting this book with anyone but Japanese performers, but I also know precious little about who's who in Japanese cinema. How can I pick the right person to play Himiko, her haunted father, her shaman mentor Yama, her nemesis Ryu, her indomitable best friend Kaya, and everyone else when I am woefully unfamiliar with contemporary Japanese actors and actresses? I can look up their images online, but that won't tell me anything about their acting style or the full scope of their talent. The person who looks good for a part might not be the right person to play that part.

So I'm going to take a different tack and, instead of dreamcasting Spirit's Princess with live performers, I'll turn to the realm of animation. Not just any animation, of course. This is my dream and I like to dream big! So I'm going to close my eyes and imagine that by some miracle, this project draws the attention of Oscar winner Hayao Miyazaki, co-head of Studio Ghibli, the master whose gifts brought us so many wonderful films. If you're going to get someone else to cast your book when it's turned into a movie, get the best!

See you at the premiere.
Learn more about the book and author at the Princesses of Myth website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ceri Radford's "A Surrey State of Affairs"

Ceri Radford grew up in Swansea, studied English literature and French at Cambridge and started her career with Reuters. She has since written about books, TV, culture, society, male strippers and many other things besides for publications including The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, and Red Magazine. She currently lives, confusingly, very close to Geneva, but in France.

Here Radford dreamcasts an adaptation of her first novel, A Surrey State of Affairs:
Constance Harding: My British heroine is a 53 year-old, biscuit-baking, church-bell-ringing, hopelessly deluded meddling mother. One actress springs immediately to mind: Meryl Streep. She would be perfect, not just for her manifest brilliance, but also because she has already shown herself equal to capturing Constance by playing both a mother-of-the-bride in the throes of wedding planning (in Mamma Mia!), and Margaret Thatcher.

Jeffrey Harding: Constance’s husband Jeffrey – “a man of few words and many possible meanings” – falls short of the romantic ideal, but is not irredeemable. I could just imagine Colin Firth, with the haughtiness of his unreformed Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary, playing Jeffrey as he opens his Financial Times across the dinner table like a giant peach windbreak.

Darcy: The above brings me to another central character: Constance’s Eclectus parrot, named Darcy. Alas, the talking parrot in Pirates of the Caribbean is the wrong species; while Blu the Macaw from Rio is made of pixels. The only solution is to hand-rear an infant Eclectus and train it rigorously: the role will require the bird to swoop at a police officer while Constance is holding her husband’s antique rifle concealed within a sports sock.

Natalia and Lydia: Constance’s maid Natalia and her twin sister could quite feasibly be played by The Cheeky Girls, Gabriela and Monica Irimia, who found fame, of a sort, with their 2002 single “Cheeky Song (Touch my Bum)”.

Sophie Harding: Since it’s fashionable to cast “real people” rather than actors, for the role of Constance’s truculent teenage daughter I would send my casting director to Topshop with a megaphone and a bag of freebies. The part would go to whoever trampled the greatest number of people in pursuit of a free pair of hotpants and packet of Milkyway Magic Stars.

Rupert Harding: I’d like James McAvoy, please. There is no particular correlation between him and Rupert, Constance’s long-suffering son, who stoically resists his mother’s attempts to find him a girlfriend on the internet, but if James McAvoy was in the film then I would get to meet him and swoon in an undignified fashion.
Visit Ceri Radford's website and like her Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: A Surrey State of Affairs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tom Leveen's "Zero"

Tom Leveen is the author of Party and Zero (young adult contemporary, both with Random House). Zero was released on April 24, 2012.

Here he shares his preferences for the cast of an adaptation of Zero:
It took me a while to come up with a dream cast for Zero, but I think I've settled on one.

MIKE: The Basketball Diaries-era Leonardo DiCaprio. Perfect blend of smarm, charm, and intensity. He can pull off the skater cut, and slay women with his smoky gaze, amiright? I've been a nominal fan of his ever since Gilbert Grape, and the truth is, the guy's a hell of an actor. It wouldn't hurt ticket sales, that's all I'm sayin'.

MIRIAM: Non-pleather-wearing, post-Matrix trilogy Carrie-Anne Moss. I remember seeing her in a contemporary film after The Matrix and being utterly shocked at her appearance. Still beautiful, but worn and haggard for the role, and I think that's a perfect fit for Zero's put-upon and co-dependent mother.

RICHARD: Philip Seymour Hoffman. Is there any role this man can't do? I love his range, and I think he's can play the right mix of alcoholic charm and sudden brokenness needed for the nuances of Richard Walsh, the fall and redemption of someone who could be a great dad if he tried.

JENN: I went back and forth on this for a while, but ultimately, I'm going to go with Samantha Mathis circa Pump Up the Volume. One, because she's so damn cute in that; and two, she has the edge plus comic timing plus overwhelming energy needed to pull off Jenn's bouncy but wounded persona.

DEBORAH: Allison Janney (The West Wing, Drop Dead Gorgeous.) No question. I flirted with maybe a nineties Whoopi Goldberg, but Deborah has to end up being a bitch, even if it's off screen, and Janney is a superb actor with great range, who I think could really sell the art teacher's flightiness and passion for art, while still stabbing her pupil in the back. Plus, I'd just like to meet her.

And at last, our titular protagonist, ZERO: I really wish I could say AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia, Soul Surfer), who is awesome, but I think she belongs somewhere in my first novel, Party. So that's a heartbreaker. I ended up choosing Ellen Page here, first for her absolutely priceless comic timing, which is central for Zero, but also as an actor who I think can pull off the self-doubt and self-deprecation the character requires. She's probably aged just a bit too much for the role now, so I think I'd have to back her up to a post-Juno, pre-Inception look.

I didn’t have any actors in mind when I wrote the original draft back in 1993, unless you counted myself and my friends. I still saw that “cast” in my head while doing the endless rewrites and revisions over those nineteen years. I even have a series of photos with me and the guys who I envisioned in the band, and more than once had plans to film a scene from the book just for the hell of it.

I also find it amusing, though, how the characters grow and evolve over the course of years, starting off looking and even acting like certain people on page one of draft one, then by the last page of the last draft, they’ve completely transformed. I’m thrilled to finally get her out on the shelves after so long, but I will always wonder who else Zero may have become had we spent more time together.
Watch the trailer for Zero, and learn more about the book and author at Tom Leveen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kate Quinn's "Empress of the Seven Hills"

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she first got hooked on ancient Rome while watching I, Claudius at the age of seven. She wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome, and it was later published as Mistress of Rome. A prequel followed, titled Daughters of Rome, and then a sequel--the newly released Empress of the Seven Hills--written while her husband was deployed to the Middle East.

Here Quinn shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Empress of the Seven Hills:
A question like this is pure wish fulfillment for authors – especially historical fiction authors, who don't have much chance of getting their books made into movies. It doesn't cost me anything to write about all those Colosseum fights and battles between endless legions and Roman forums with crowds of thousands, but such movies are prohibitively expensive to make, so I doubt HBO will be burning up my phone line anytime soon with offers to turn Empress of the Seven Hills into a star-studded 7-season miniseries. But it's fun to dream, so here's my ideal cast.

Vix: oddly enough, my brash and abrasive soldier hero is the hardest to cast. For one thing, he starts the book out as a swaggering boy of nineteen, and ends as a capable war hero of thirty-three. I'll go with Chris Hemsworth – his action flick Thor was fairly forgettable, but he showed humor, charisma, and swagger just like Vix, and in Snow White and the Huntsman he proved he could swing a sword with serious heft.

Sabina: Emma Watson would be perfect for my intelligent, reticent, and just-a-bit-mysterious heroine. Playing a senator's daughter with a yen for adventure, Ms. Watson would get to dress up and dine with emperors, or go grunge to hunker down with legionaries, all with equal aplomb. Plus rock a pixie cut.

Hadrian: for Sabina's husband and the book's villain, I'll pick Wentworth Miller. His stint in Prison Break showed him as charming and intelligent, his good looks hiding a serpentine mind and a cool, detached ruthlessness – perfect for Hadrian.

Titus: Vix's unlikely best friend is a shy over-educated patrician boy who grows into confident man-to-be-reckoned-with, and I can think of no one better than Zach Gilford. As the teenage quarterback in Friday Night Lights he showed both sweetness and steel beneath a gawky inarticulate surface.

Emperor Trajan: the confident, charismatic man's-man emperor of Rome, beloved by all and especially by Vix who is his protege. Put Harrison Ford in a breastplate, and we're done.

Empress Plotina: with a name like that, you know Trajan's wife will be a scheming villainness. Michelle Forbes would be perfect; handsome but cold.

Mirah: Vix's fiery Jewish wife with the red hair? Emma Stone.

Senator Marcus Norbanus: Gabriel Byrne would be perfect for Sabina's intellectual senator father.

Faustina: Sabina's little sister, who grows up into a beauty and sets her sights on the shy Titus for a future husband. Jessica Brown Findlay plays an identical type in Downton Abbey as an earl's spirited rebel daughter who uses beauty, charm, wit, and everything else in her arsenal to make sure she gets her own way. Just like Faustina.

Now that we have a cast, can I write the screenplay?
Learn more about Empress of the Seven Hills and its author at Kate Quinn's website and blog.

Writers Read: Kate Quinn.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Kate Quinn and Caesar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mariah Fredericks's "The Girl in the Park"

Mariah Fredericks is the author of the bestselling novel The True Meaning of Cleavage, which Meg Cabot called "laugh-out-loud funny and way twisted!" She is also the author of Head Games, Crunch Time, and the In the Cards series.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Girl in the Park:
I'm a frustrated casting director. I love picking actors for roles in books or thinking about who should play what historical figure. (Why has no one cast Tommy Lee Jones as LBJ—why, why?) I don't generally imagine real actors playing the parts in my books. But once I started researching, it was huge fun to think about what certain performers would bring to the roles. If I'm going for box office, Robert Pattinson could make a terrific Nico, as he is so skilled at playing attractive but deadly. And actually, Kristen Stewart could play Rain. Not only is she a great actress, she has a shyness and discomfort with public speaking that make her right for the part. I'd also love to see Mia Wasikowska play Rain, she does smart and awkward so well. Or Saoirse Ronan, who was knockout in Hanna and The Lovely Bones.

Mark Salling is another thought for Nico. He's got the bad boy thing down. Blake Lively could play regal, intimidating Sasha in her sleep; I'd love to see Yaya DaCosta in the part. She did play a bona fide adult in The Kids Are All Right, but I still think she'd be great as that lofty, superior girl whose friendship and approval you yearned for at school. When I thought of Wendy, my mind went immediately to Amanda Seyfried. She doesn't physically match the description of Wendy. But her drifty blond locks and huge eyes evoke both likability and the capacity to make really bad decisions. She would be vivid enough for a character who appears only in flashbacks. You would care who killed Amanda Seyfried.
Learn more about the book and author at Mariah Fredericks's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kristan Higgins's "Somebody to Love"

Kristan Higgins is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award.

Here she shares some suggestions about the above-the-line talent for an adaptation of her latest novel, Somebody to Love:
Parker Welles belongs to the 1%—she lives off the interest from her trust fund, has never had to check a price tag in her life and lives in a Rhode Island mansion with 29 bathrooms. That is, until her father informs her that he’s drained her bank account to cover an insider trading scheme. She’s broke, unemployed, needs to move, and asap. She only has one thing left: a tiny, battered house she’s never seen on the remote northern coast of Maine. She has the summer to flip it and make a nest egg before her son starts kindergarten. The last person whose help she wants is Thing One, better known as James Cahill, her father’s attorney and the son he never had. James, meanwhile, has spent much of his life trying to make amends for a childhood accident that ruined his family. Feeling in large part responsible for Parker’s ruined finances, he’s determined to help her in any way he can, whether she wants him there or not.

Parker’s a very intelligent, capable woman, but the new developments in her life have left her reeling. I think Charlize Theron would make an excellent Parker—she’s one of those mercurial actors who can convey six emotions at once. James Franco might make a great Thing One, in that he has both a regal sense about him as well as a fantastic comedic sense. Other key characters are Lavinia, Parker’s crusty, earthy cousin—in a dream world, I’d have Dame Judi Dench play her. Alec Baldwin would perfect as Harry, Parker’s edgy, corrupt father. And because it’s on my bucket list to meet her, I’d cast Meryl Streep as Althea, Parker’s mom and the serial trophy wife to increasingly elderly husbands.

For director, Nancy Meyers has directed two romantic comedies that I’ve loved—It’s Complicated and What Women Want, both of which had humor and heart. So as long as we’re wish-listing, why not?
Learn more about the book and author at Kristan Higgins's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue